The Ghana Independent Broadcasters Association (GIBA) says it remains open to engaging the National Communications Authority (NCA) further on its contentions with the introduction of Conditional Access System for Free-to-Air TV broadcast in Ghana.
This is after its case presented to the Supreme Court earlier in 2020 against the National Communications Authority (NCA) and the Attorney General on the issue was thrown out yesterday [Tuesday].
The association was asking the Court to declare the Conditional Access System as an unnecessary restraint on the establishment and operation of private media.
They are of the view that the Conditional Access System is a breach of the right to free press enshrined in the 1992 Constitution.
But the seven-panel court unanimously held that GIBA’s concerns were merely anticipatory.
Answering the question on the Association’s next move now that the case has been dismissed, Andrew Aninkrah, the President of GIBA, said his association will keep performing their normal duties and will stand by their opposition to the policy.
“We hope they [the NCA] do not breach anything. That is what we are praying for. We are not interested in going to court. We have always opened our doors for discussion with the Ministry of Communications and NCA.”
“We will continue to play our roles as watchmen. We’ll continue to protect the constitution. We’ll do our best. We would educate the public when we go forward. We hope that this will then bring finality to whatever there is. We need to announce the fact that we are still in the DTT era where people are receiving DTT through various decoders without conditional access and so it is possible to continue that way,” he stated on Eyewitness News.
How the controversy began
The Ministry of Communications through the NCA has since 2017 been attempting to implement changes to the television broadcast sector with the introduction of systems of control which GIBA frowned upon because of access concerns.
GIBA has over the last three years argued that the policy will take away the public’s right to freely access free television programming.
After previous misgivings, GIBA welcomed a revised standard on the Digital Terrestrial Television (DTT) and Direct-To-Home (DTH) Receivers by the Ghana Standards Authority (GSA) after the Conditional Access System was made non-mandatory for Free-To-Air TV Receivers on December 18, 2019.
But on January 8, 2020, GIBA came out with a statement saying the NCA published a document on its website on December 30 that was at odds with the GSA standards agreed upon indicating the Ghana Minimum Technical Specifications for DTT and DTH receivers for Free-to-Air Television Reception.
It described the purportedly new document as alarming.
GIBA subsequently dragged the NCA to court over the issue.